October 22, 2013

South Portland council candidates well-versed in public service

Four people are running for at-large seats, two of them opponents of the Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Four candidates are vying for two at-large seats on the South Portland City Council in the Nov. 5 election.

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Carol Thorne, at-large South Portland City Council candidate, in the Nov. 2013 elections.

Maxine Beecher, candidate for South Portland councilor-at-large, in the Nov. 2013 elections.

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The sole incumbent, Tom Blake, will face former City Councilor Maxine Beecher, South Portland Board of Education member Richard Matthews, and former Planning Board member Carol Thorne. One of the council posts was left vacant by Alan Livingston, who chose not to run for re-election.

Each candidate boasts a track record of public service, and each wants to help make good decisions to help the city grow and prosper.

Thorne originally hails from Abilene, Texas, but spent nearly a decade in the city until 1976 and has called South Portland home since 1992. A real estate broker by trade, Thorne said her experience on the Planning Board from 1996 to 2011 could prove an asset in council deliberations. During that time, Thorne said she helped write the city’s new comprehensive plan.

She opposes the Waterfront Protection Ordinance, saying the proposed zoning law needs more study and consideration and could hamper development and growth on the waterfront.

Beecher is a former three-term District 4 city councilor. Since she left office in 2012, she said, she never stopped being involved in city business, and was active in a campaign to keep Bug Light Park and South Portland Park alcohol-free.

She was also a member of the ballot question committee supporting a $21 million proposal to construct a community services building to house, among other departments, the public works garage. Although the first bond attempt for the community service center failed, she is hopeful that a $14 million version on the November ballot will pass. Beecher said that although she shares concerns over tar sands, she opposes the Waterfront Protection Ordinance and fears it will spur lawsuits if it passes.

Richard Matthews, currently a member of the school board, said he is running with a relatively undefined agenda but plans to advocate for maintained levels of city services without pushing taxes “through the roof.”

Matthews declined to take a position on the Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

Blake, a two-term city councilor, is a retired South Portland firefighter and EMT. Vying for his third term at-large, Blake said he will continue to push for greater sustainability in city government, a closer working relationship between the City Council and the Board of Education, and municipal budgets that minimize new taxes and maintain city services. Blake has been an outspoken proponent of the Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:mbyrne@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

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Richard Matthews, at-large South Portland City Council candidate, in the Nov. 2013 elections.

Tom Blake, incumbent and candidate for at-large City Council seat, in the Nov. 2013 elections.


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